What is World Friendship Games, the event Russia is launching?

Following the Ukraine invasion, athletes from Russia and Belarus faced widespread bans from international sports.

Vladimir Putin in a file photo (Image Credits- Twitter/ @KremlinRussia_E)
By Abhiruchi Rout | May 9, 2023 | 2 Min Read follow icon Follow Us

Following the Ukraine invasion, athletes from Russia and Belarus faced widespread bans from international sports. Nevertheless, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has recommended that athletes from both countries be permitted to participate under a neutral flag. Some Olympic sports federations, such as archery, canoeing, table tennis, and taekwondo, have allowed athletes from these two countries to compete. 

The IOC hasn’t decided on whether Russians and Belarusians will be allowed to participate in the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, scheduled from July 28 to August 11, 2024. Earlier in the month, Ukrainian government official Oleh Nemchinov stated that Ukrainian athletes must not be permitted to participate in Olympic qualifying events if Russians are involved. Additionally, Ukraine has warned of a potential boycott of the Paris 2024 Olympics. Numerous international athletes have expressed disapproval regarding IOC President Thomas Bach‘s assertion that Russians and Belarusians can compete as neutral athletes. Considering the entire situation, Russia has proposed to launch an international multi-sport event by reviving the ‘World Friendship Games’ in 2024.

Read More-Ukraine athletes forbidden to compete with Russian and Belarus

Who proposed the idea for the revival of the World Friendship Games?

The Russian Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin informed President Vladimir Putin regarding his plans to launch a series of international events, including the “World Friendship Games” in 2023, shortly after the conclusion of the Olympic Games in Paris. During a Government meeting headed by the president, Matytsin discussed aspirations for what he called the World Friendship Games. 

He stated, “We propose to intensify the practice of holding competitions in an open format with the invitation of partner countries,” “We continue to fulfill your [Putin’s] instruction to organize the World Friendship Games in the fall of 2024. We consider it necessary to use the resources of both Russian and international public and state organizations to the maximum for the successful holding of the Games, which should be held on a regular basis in the future.” This was mentioned on the Kremlin’s official website.

What are World Friendship Games and its history?

The World Friendship Games, also known as Friendship-84, was a global multi-sport event held from July 2 to September 16, 1984, which was hosted by the Soviet Union and eight other socialist nations – Bulgaria, Cuba, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, North Korea, Mongolia, and Poland. These countries boycotted the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. 

Approximately fifty countries participated in the World Friendship Games. While the boycotting nations sent their top athletes, other countries fielded their reserve teams, which consisted of athletes who did not qualify for the Los Angeles Olympic Games. The Games featured 22 Olympic disciplines (excluding association football and synchronized swimming) and non-Olympic sports such as table tennis, tennis, and sambo wrestling.

Read More:
Why are Sports Ministers against Russia participation as ‘neutrals’?
FIG: Russia and Belarus gymnasts should be permitted to compete
ISU Council Meeting to determine future of Russia and Belarus in Ice Skating